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Phosphorus - Point Sources

Click Here to View Detailed Table - 22 KB PDF File Point source pollution consists of waste products discharged from a specific point, such as a sewage treatment plant or an industrial facility, such as a paper plant. Pollutants from these sources can usually be traced to a pipe or specific "point" of origin.

New York, Vermont and Quebec have invested significant resources to reduce the amount of phosphorus discharged by point sources in the Basin. Point sources now account for about 10% of the total amount of phosphorus entering Lake Champlain [2008 update to Atlas]. The primary point sources of phosphorus in the Basin are 96 wastewater treatment plants: 60 in Vermont, 29 in New York, and 12 in Quebec [2008 update to Atlas]. Although the majority are municipalities, several industries and state facilities (such as fish hatcheries) also discharge phosphorus to Lake Champlain or its tributaries. Since 1996, over $28 million has been spent in the Lake Champlain Basin to upgrade phosphorus removal technologies at wastewater treatment plants.

According to Vermont law, 28 of the facilities in the Vermont portion of the Basin must not exceed a 0.8 milligrams of phosphorus per liter limit in their discharge. The Vermont Wastewater Phosphorus Loads by Lake Segment [22 KB] table shows discharges from 61 Vermont treatment plants during 1991, 1996, 2000, and 2003. With financial assistance from the state, nearly all of these facilities have completed improvements in their treatment processes to meet this requirement. In 1999 alone, Vermont provided over $3 million in capital funds specifically for phosphorus removal upgrades at wastewater treatment facilities. Those that remain are either in the construction or planning phase of similar improvements.

Click Here to View Detailed Table - 17 KB PDF File Although there is no similar legal limit on discharges in New York, the state is supporting similar upgrades to treatment plants and enforcing phosphorus discharge limits from several industrial dischargers through its permitting program. The New York Wastewater Phosphorus Loads by Lake Segment [17 KB] table shows discharges from 28 New York treatment plants during 1991, 1996, 2000, and 2003. New York's Clean Water/Air Environmental Bond Act has funded many phosphorus removal and other wastewater treatment projects Basin communities in New York. In 1999 alone, $1.3 million was funded to projects.

In Quebec, wastewater facilities must not exceed a 1.0 milligrams of phosphorus per liter limit in their discharge. The Clean-up Wastewater program provided over $1.1 million to complete a wastewater treatment facility during 1999.

Learn More...
  • Opportunities for Action Plan (See Chapter 2)
  • Background Technical Information for Opportunities for Action: An Evolving Plan for the Future of the Lake Champlain Basin. LCBP. LCBP Technical Report #16. June 1996.
  • Long-Term Water Quality and Biological Monitoring Project for Lake Champlain. Cummulative Report for Project Years 1992- 1996. . LCBP Technical Report #26. February 1998.
  • Cost-Effective Phosphorus Removal from Secondary Wastewater Effluent through Mineral Adsorption. Larry D. Goehring, Sr., Tammo S. Steenhuis, Andrea S. Brooks, Melissa N. Rosenwald, Jennifer Chen, Cornell University and Victor J. Putnam, Essex County Planning Department. December 1999. LCBP Technical Report #36.
Lake Champlain Basin Program, 2004
Design: Nicole L. Ballinger (LCBP) | Maps: Northern Cartographic and LCBP